Apple CEO Tim Cook Downplays Threat Of Windows 8 PC-Tablet Convergence

“Anything can be forced to converge,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said of PC-tablet convergence. “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are not going to be pleasing to the user.”


Forget what the competition is planning: Apple does not envision the iPad and MacBook Air converging at any point in the near future.

Today, the company released its second-quarter financial results ($39.2 billion in revenue, $11.6 billion in net revenue), and despite selling 11.8 million iPads, Cook took time during an earnings call to discuss the potential threat of the PC and tablet spaces converging. Many expect Microsoft’s latest offering, Windows 8, to unite these two sides of the spectrum, making the tablet not a post-PC device, but just a PC in a different form. But Cook didn’t sound too concerned. “Anything can be forced to converge,” Cook said. “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are not going to be pleasing to the user.”

An analyst on the call broached the subject with Cook, suggesting that it’s almost inevitable that ultrabook and tablet experiences will be combined going forward. It’s a notion Microsoft has long subscribed to. “We view a tablet as a PC,” then-Windows Phone president Andy Lees said in July.

Apple, on the other hand, is living in the post-PC world, and fully expects the iPad to eclipse sales of the PC in volume. Cook boasted that the iPad has already sold 67 million units since launching in 2010; by comparison, it took Apple 27 years to sell that many Macs, five years to sell that many iPods, and three years to sell that many iPhones. In other words, the market for iPads is huge–just as Cook expects it to be for Macs for sometime to come.

Combining the two products–as is Microsoft’s aim with Windows 8–has its downsides. “The problem is that the [converged] products are about tradeoffs: You begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left at the end of day is not pleasing to anyone,” Cook said. “The tablet market is huge…I also believe that there is a very good market for the MacBook Air…But I do think it appeals to someone who has different requirements. You woudln’t want to put these things together because you are compromising both, and not pleasing either user.”

“Some people will prefer to have both [together], but to make the compromise of convergence–we’re not going to that party,” Cook continued. “Others might, but we’re going to play them both [separately].”

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.